Hackney Police have been given mobile fingerprint devices that will identify suspects of crime at roadside in a bid to save both officer time and public money.
The mobile phone device, Identity Not Known Biometrics (INK), scans suspect’s fingerprints and can confirm and individual’s identity within 60 seconds if they are known to police databases.
Hackney Police hope this will allow for faster identification of wanted offenders by removing the time needed to return to a police base, leaving officers more time to stay out on the streets.
Local residents praised voiced their approval of the devices. One user, Baertram010 wrote:
Amazing what a smart phone with an app can do.
— Lonkero (@baertram010) September 10, 2018
Another asked for the devices to be extended to police forces across London.
Twitter user AvoidInertia wrote:
Can we have these in Newham please?
— AvoidInertia (@AvoidInertia) September 10, 2018
Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick, said: “I have always been clear in my ambition to make the best possible use of technology to fight crime. The speed of analysis of information that this device will offer, will drive effectiveness and efficiency and allow officers to spend more time in our communities and fighting crime.
The borough was issued with the device on Monday evening. The first use resulted in the police identifying a wanted suspect after he had given them a false name.
The product and software was developed by the Met’s own officers and staff and will save an estimated £200,000 per annum. Ms Dick praised staff for embracing the digital age.
Ms Dick said: “This new technology was developed from the ground up with the full involvement of our officers and as we move forward we need more people like them, to join us with their tech savvy, innovative thinking. I hope this shows potential officer recruits that policing is fully embracing the digital age and that they can be part of an exciting future.”
Some residents questioned police authority to use these devices. Twiter user ViewAutistics said:
Are we required to give fingerprints when no crime has been committed? If so it’s a backward step for civil liberties.
— Autistic Alternative View (@ViewAutistic) September 11, 2018
However, the Met Police said that fingerprints are only taken where there is a legal cause under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. They also hope that INK devices will help free up limited custody space for offenders who require detention.
The portable device uses an Android smartphone handset paired with a fingerprint reader. When a fingerprint is taken, the device searches the Criminal Records Office and immigration enforcement databases.
The device also allows Hackney Police to check the Police National Computer to establish if individuals are wanted for any outstanding offences.
Superintendent Adrian Hutchinson, who lead the project, said the device could also be used in the case of a traffic violation.
Mr Hutchinson said: “If police stop a driver for a traffic violation but the driver has no documents on him and the car is registered to another person, officers may not be happy that the name given is correct. INK can allow them to confirm the identity to allow the service of a summons, rather than arrest them and take them to a police station where they then confirm their identity.
“I am very proud we have become the first British police force to develop our own device. With the money we are saving, we are now able to provide more devices to more officers than ever before, saving them the time and inconvenience of either waiting for a biometric device to arrive or taking the suspect into custody.”
In line with data protection regulations, all fingerprints taken on the device are deleted automatically once an officer logs off the device.